Los Angeles - Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson followed up his spectacular first-round 60 with a four-under par 68 on Friday to hold a two-shot lead after two rounds of the Desert Classic.
Mickelson birdied four of his last five holes on the Nicklaus Tournament course, one of three par-72 layouts in use in the US PGA Tour tournament in the California desert east of Los Angeles.
He overcame a double-bogey six at the par-four 18th - his ninth of the day which saw him make the turn at even par for the round.
Mickelson's 16-under total of 128 put him two strokes in front of Australian rookie Curtis Luck, who grabbed his eighth birdie of the day at his final hole - the ninth - to post a 66 on the Nicklaus course and a 14-under par total of 130.
Canadian Adam Hadwin and American Steve Marino shared third on 131.
Marino had five birdies and an eagle hole-in-one on the par-three seventh on the way to a seven-under par 65 at the La Quinta course.
Hadwin had seven birdies and one bogey in a 66 at La Quinta, where Mickelson fashioned his 60 a day earlier.
"I actually felt better striking it but I didn't putt very well today, certainly relative to yesterday where I was making everything," Mickelson said.
"But I finished strong, birdied four of the last five.
Mickelson, playing his first tournament of 2019, called it a "fun, if not surprising, start" to his year.
"It's fun to be in the mix," said Mickelson, whose two-round total is the second-best of his career, behind the 36-hole total of 125 to start the 2013 Phoenix Open.
Mickelson appeared to be picking up where he left off with back-to-back birdies at the 11th and 12th holes, but his approach at the 18th found the water and he took a double bogey.
An eight-foot birdie putt at the fifth sparked a string of three straight birdies and he picked up one more shot at the ninth.
"I turned a round that was not very good into a respectable round," said Mickelson, although he admitted that he would have liked to be even lower heading into a third round on the tougher Stadium course.
"If you shoot six-, seven-under par on the Nicklaus course that's a good solid round," he said. "I shot four (under) so I'll just have to come out tomorrow and shoot six or seven (under) to make up for it."
Defending champion Jon Rahm fired his second straight 66 to head a trio of players on 132 alongside Wyndham Clark (67) and Joey Garber (64).
Mickelson said he would have to stay aggressive on the weekend.
"You just have to keep firing on all cylinders and going after birdies because this is a course where there's going to be a lot of birdies," he said.
"Usually when you play that well the first two rounds you're hitting the ball where you want and making some putts. I just have to keep that going the next couple of days."
Leading second round scores on Friday in the PGA Tour's Desert Classic in La Quinta, California (par-72; USA unless stated):
128 - Phil Mickelson 60-68
130 - Curtis Luck (AUS) 64-66
131 - Adam Hadwin (CAN) 65-66, Steve Marino 66-65
132 - Wyndham Clark 65-67, Jon Rahm (ESP) 66-66, Joey Garber 68-64
133 - Sean O'Hair 66-67, Abraham Ancer (MEX) 66-67, Patrick Cantlay 67-66
134 - Alex Cejka (GER) 66-68, Adam Svensson (CAN) 66-68, Vaughn
Taylor 68-66, Michael Thompson 68-66, Sam Saunders 68-66 Adam Long
63-71, Carlos Ortiz (MEX) 72-62, Sam Burns 68-66, Daniel Berger 67-67,
Talor Gooch 67-67